Friday, February 27, 2009

Last Season’s Top Chef, Stephanie Izard, on Whether Padma Lakshmi Follows the Acapulco Golden Rule

Possums, as much as we like and appreciate last season’s Top Chef winner, Stephanie Izard, we cannot help but concede that she, being a cautious and intelligent sort (drats!), hasn’t always given the most thrilling of interviews (although perhaps in these Caseygate times, that’s not such a bad thing). So it is with great pleasure that we perused one of the liveliest Izard interviews to date, where she discusses her soon-to-open restaurant in Chicago and how she is confident she will beat Hosea Rosenberg during their upcoming cook-off in Aspen. But our favorite exchange was this:

Q. Settle a rumor: Does Padma like to share her weed or no?
A. Does she seem like the type who shares? That would not be very diva would it?

A Hootie Nation’s Tributes to Its Fallen But Unbowed Heroine Begin

Click here for the full, uncanny triptych.

Another Gay Falls for the Pads

The Facebook Updates That Signaled Impending Doom; Also, Toby Young on Caseygate: A “Pretty Shocking Rant”

Yesterday, Pegasus News posted the updates from Casey Thompson’s Facebook page that seem to indicate in real time her growing frustration with being portrayed as a scapegoat for Carla Hall’s loss:

Asked about the snowballing controversy, Toby Young told

“It’s a pretty shocking rant. The judges don’t see what goes on behind the scenes, so I don’t know if what she says is true.”

But, as Miss XaXa is quick to remind us, Texas girls have a temper, and don’t take kindly to attack or loss.

The Response to Casey Thompson’s Response

From the SideDish blog of D Magazine.

Casey Thompson Responds--Again

From Casey Thompson's blog.

One of These Things Is Not Like the Others: Amuse-Biatch Celebrities Difference, Even on Rocco Ground

And for anyone who still has doubts that Rocco DiSpirito is straight, his outfit on the episode should clear things up. What Gay would be caught dead in that?

And Then We Woke Up, and Realized It Was Only a Beautiful Flamer's Dream

New York Chef to Stefan Richter: My Dishes Are Dirtier Than Yours!

Well, possums, it looks as though Stefan Richter has finally found an Italian chef who isn’t happy to join him on Team Euro.

As our pals at Grub Street relate, Pino Luongo—who, according to The New York Post, “was synonymous with the high-powered New York dining scene of the '80s and '90s,” and who a couple of months ago released a memoir titled Dirty Dishes—is “flabbergasted” that Stefan’s own book, scheduled for release in May, is also titled Dirty Dishes. Luongo calls him out for being unoriginal and destined always to be second, and “strongly suggests” that Stefan change the title of his book.

Possums, it is on. Herr Richter, your move.

Ellen Upstages Fabio, Serves as the Melon to His Ham, Er, Prosciutto

And so it begins. Click HERE to watch.

Page Six: Leah & Hosea at It Again

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: What a Difference a Letter Makes

Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: Who Says That Chivalry Is Dead?

Just imagine it, possums. For once, a man who’ll free you from crabs rather than give them to you in the first place.

Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: Do Padma and Madonna Have Something in Common?

Try if you can, possums, to ignore for just a moment the retina-searing outfit that Pads is wearing. Focus instead on her wrist. Is that one of them red stringy thingies from Kabbalah? Has she become a Padmaterial Girl?

It’s Not Delivery, It’s Viviani: Fabio to Shill for Italian Frozen Pizza Made by German Corporation

So sayeth the press release, announcing that “Fabio Viviani will act as American spokesperson for Italy’s number one selling frozen pizza,” Dr. Oetker’s “Ristorante” brand. Now, possums, we have no shame in admitting that we had never before heard of that undoubtedly storied Italian, Dr. Oetker, so we turned to the Internet.

According to Wikipedia, Dr. Oetker is a German company founded in 1891 by the eponymous Herrdoktor, who chose Nazi Party member Richard Kaselowsky as company leader in 1920. “In 1937, the company received the title of Nationalsozialistischer Musterbetrieb, or national-socialist model company, by the German Labour Front…. The company participates in the Forced/Slave Labor Compensation Fund, an organization of German industries taking responsibility for slave labour during the Second World War.”

It cannot be said strongly enough, however, that none of this is unique to Dr. Oetker as a company. After all, other highly reputable modern brands have Nazi associations in their corporate pasts. For example, historian Neil Gregor wrote a book on Daimler-Benz that found “a close association between the car manufacturer and the Nazi system” and established that “the company acquiesced in the exploitation of forced labor.” And yet no one has a problem buying a Merc, and in 1998 Daimler-Benz merged with the All-American Chrysler Corporation.

Nowadays, Dr. Oetker is apparently a multinational corporation with a good reputation in corporate responsibility and environmental matters. And somehow frozen pizza is now part of the empire, however odd it seems. Indeed, the German television ad below reflects that cognitive dissonance.

The Fabio “will participate in a five-city media tour this summer to introduce the favorite brand of thin-crust pizza lovers throughout Europe and Canada to consumers in the northeastern United States.” So if you live in the Northeast, you know what to look for, possums.

Toby Young: I Might Be Back Next Season, Marcel Vigneron Has a Temper, and Stefan Richter Converted a Lesbian

From today's live webchat with The Los Angeles Times:

The Moment Hosea Won

Talk of the Hootie Nation: Carla Hall Speaks to the Adoring Masses

Miss Carla was a guest on National Public Radio's show, Talk of the Nation, where she reveals that even her family thought she was being too nice, and defends Tom Colicchio from charges of insincerity.

Bear Baiting: A Defensive Tom Colicchio Says He’d Give Hosea the Win All Over Again

Well, possums, if there’s one thing we learnt from reading National Geographic and watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom as a child, it is that you must never, ever, ever attack a bear, for bears wax exceedingly wroth and their wrath is fearsome to behold.

How much more true, then, is this for the Ursus Major himself.

In response to the firestorm that has erupted on the Internet over Hosea Rosenberg’s being awarded the title of “Top Chef,” Tom Colicchio called People Magazine—exclusively!—to give the irate a piece of his mind:

“If I had to do it all over again, reading what I’m reading, I’d still say Hosea wins. He made a better meal….We don’t care about personalities. We don’t care about who was making out. We simply care about who put together a better meal from start to finish.”

First of all, the teddy doth protest too much. As mentioned in this video, he does care who was hooking up with whom. But that’s an unimportant point.

This is the bit that is interesting to us:

Plus, he adds, the judges only consider the output from that night’s challenge – never relying on past performances or outside factors.

“I come to Judges’ Table with an idea of who I think should win based on what the challenge was – not based on who I think the best chef is,” he says.

We find it curious because on his Bravo blog, Toby Young has a quibble with that “never”:

I asked Tom at the outset whether the same rule applied to judging the finale as it did to all the other challenges, namely, that we had to disregard everything the chefs had done before and judge them entirely on their performance that day. He said it did, but with one caveat: if we whittled the finalists down to two, and there was nothing to choose between them, we could bring in their past performances as a tie-breaker.

As far as I was concerned, that was exactly the situation in last night’s episode — and, for that reason, we ought to give it to Stefan, who clearly performed better over the course of the season than Hosea. My argument went like this: Stefan and Hosea tied the appetizer and the first course; Stefan won the second; and Hosea won the third. So that was one win each, deadlock.

It’s a frightening day in our little corner of the Snarkshire Moors when we find ourselves thinking that Toby Young makes a cogent, lucid, persuasive argument, but end times appear to be upon us.

But take a look at Tom’s statement again. It seems implicitly to concede that he doesn’t think Hosea is the best chef, and that is the most revealing thing of all. That, we suspect, is what lies at the heart of the “popular revolt” on the blogosphere, a very American sense that the principles of meritocracy have been violated, and that the winner, no matter what the title says, is most decidedly not Top Chef.

Even Tom Colicchio Wants to Know If Leah and Hosea “Hooked Up”; He’s Betting on Fabio for Fan Favorite, and Liked “Slumdog Millionaire”

Hosea Rosenberg’s “Tasty Treats,” “Hugs, Kisses, and Spoon-Feeding” at South Beach

For details, read this account of the party hosted at the Pelican Hotel by Jeff McInnis, and featuring the work of Jamie Lauren, Melissa Harrison, and—surprise!—Leah Cohen.

Meowza! Beaver Boots Doesn't Return the Hootie Love

In an interview with D Magazine, Casey Thompson tears into Carla. You have to read the whole thing to get the full flavor, but here are a few tidbits:

Carla was not prepared and in over her head. The show did not talk about how the first course (crab) took her half of the friggin’ cooking time that day, I was left to work the rest of HER dishes....

And where in the hell did french come from!? She is not even classically trained! It (the show) didn’t talk about how I worked on a sauce for 2 days and Carla forgot to put it on the plate… It didn’t show how the 2nd course (fish) was MINE....

I am done with TC. I did not influence her. She has NO ideas of her own, oh, except a cheese course.

What is left to say, possums? Just wow.


Earlier, we posted only excerpts from Casey’s statements to D Magazine out of professional courtesy, but in the interim, the magazine's server has gone down several times, the article has been flooded with comments, a person claiming to be a friend of Casey’s posted that Casey realizes she went too far in making those statements, and now the post appears (at least temporarily) unavailable. For that reason, below please find the full text of Casey’s statements:

"Carla was not prepared and in over her head. The show did not talk about how the first course (crab) took her half of the friggin’ cooking time that day, I was left to work the rest of HER dishes.

She also did not have a plan. The ONLY thing she had in mind was a cheese course! I would NEVER do a cheese course. And where in the hell did french come from!? She is not even classically trained! It (the show) didn’t talk about how I worked on a sauce for 2 days and Carla forgot to put it on the plate… It didn’t show how the 2nd course (fish) was MINE. It didn’t show how she took the sous vide idea and decided to GRILL it last minute causing it to be tough… And it didn’t show how she WANTED to do the souffles which she does not even know how to make! That was HER food, because it certainly was me asking her how she wanted to do this and that while she was busy picking crab the entire time and making a souffle that didn’t rise!

I am done with TC. I did not influence her. She has NO ideas of her own, oh, except a cheese course."

Commander’s Palace Owner Loves Fabio, Gets Into “Squabble” with Tom Colicchio Over Machismo and Desserts

That's what Ti Martin, the lady herself, divulged in her blog:

I ended up sitting near Fabio – a past contestant. He is a dynamic character and sweet all at once. Across from me was Toby Young – hysterical – pithy. I was glad he wasn’t judging our food....

It was one of the longest 3 course meals I’ve ever experienced but it was a great crowd and a pleasure to be in the company of industry experts. Tom and I did get in a bit of a squabble when I suggested that perhaps “machoism” is to blame for the lack of concentration male chefs put on dessert. He pointed out that one of the contestants tried a dessert and it fell flat (literally – it was a soufflé that didn’t rise) – but at least she tried. We’ll agree to disagree but I’d say that was about as heated as the conversation got.

And if you want to get advice on how to evade an alligator if you're being chased by one, watch Ms. Martin tell you here.

The Audacity of Hootie: “Don’t Blame Casey”

Miss Carla told a reporter from the Huntington, West Virginia, Herald-Dispatch:

"I would love to give [Casey Thompson] a call to see how she’s taking all of this. I hate for her to get the brunt of it. If I could get on a loudspeaker and tell the whole world and everyone who watches the show, I would tell them, ‘Don’t blame Casey.’ I take full responsibility.”

Mature and classy to the very end. Hootie Nation expects nothing less of her.

Padma Lakshmi Tries to Get the Smell of Bacon Burgers Out of Her Hair with Pantene

Consummate New Yorker Mr. Cutlets Thinks “Top Chef” Did Very Wrong by NYC

Now that the season is over, Josh “Mr. Cutlets” Ozersky—lover of the Lucullan, heterosexualist high priest of the hamburger, and sybaritic singer of the porcine pleasures that the citizens of New York are heirs to—laments what the producers of Top Chef have done (or, rather, not done) to his city:

The biggest disappointment by far — by far! — was having the show in New York, and then not doing anything with the local resources. This season could just as easily have been shot in Moonachie. Where was the visit to Katz’s? Or Flushing Chinatown? Or the run-in with David Chang? Le Bernardin may well be the best restaurant in America, but it’s not what you would call a “New York restaurant.” Every week should have brought in a real New York chef and a real New York locale. How could Top Chef, which did such good work in Chicago and Miami, not know this?

Despite the new authority conferred on him by “the disease of kings,” we disagree with his assessment of the show’s use of Chicago, but as far as New York is concerned, he is spot on. For all we know, the show was probably shot in Toronto, which so often stands in for New York (but even there they have a great food scene). As for the rest of his criticisms and suggestions, read the full corrido de Cutlets and tell us what you think.

Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: Perhaps Practicing for a Carl's Jr. Burger, Padma Lakshmi Opens Impressively Wide

Money Shot! $100,000 Shot

Hey, possums, ain't nothin' wrong with that passionate kiss; they're both single now.

She Shills by the Sea Shore: Padma Lakshmi Makes Her Bid at Paris Hilton-dom

Let’s see, possums. The same week that Tom Colicchio was revealed as a shill for Diet Coke, and the same night that Padma Lakshmi referred to Stefan Richter’s dessert as “pedestrian at best” (at which point we half expected a lightning bolt of irony to drop casually from Zeus’ hand and smite her), good ole Pads was herself revealed as the newest shill for Carl’s Jr., following in the stiletto-wearing footsteps of Paris Hilton.

According to People Magazine, Padma claims the television ad, directed by the same cinematic “genius” who did the Paris Hilton carwash ad, is “a beautiful love song to food….I think eating in itself is the act of great sensuality, so all you have to do is point the camera in the right direction.”

Pedestrian indeed. And what could possibly make Padma so hungry all the time?

Hootie Nation Weeps as Carla Hall’s Rise Deflated by “No”-fflé, Voodoo Double Curse

What was meant to be a blue cheese soufflé curdled into a “no”-fflé, and likewise our sense and reason have curdled into a bubbling, grief-studded, superstitious inquiry into why some things fail to rise. (And no, we’re not taking “egg whites and a too-hot oven” as an answer.)

After tossing and turning our voices-filled head on our tinfoil pillow, having nightmares of Hosea Rosenberg and Tom Colicchio holding up cans of Diet Coke and those little gold homunculi from the king cakes, an answer came to us.

It was nothing less than a voodoo double curse (though, of course, the producers tried to throw us off the scent by showing us a voodoo lady so incompetent that she suggested Jamie Lauren might yet be Stefan Richter’s girlfriend; mind you, if voodoo ladies have the power to turn lesbians into straight girls, then Jerry Falwell and Fred Phelps are going to be in a sticky bind).

Much as it pains us, since we genuinely like Casey “Beaver Boots” Thompson, we have no choice but to pronounce her the first voodoo curse of this finale. And it isn’t as if this is a new idea. Back in August of 2007, during Season 3, we had already dubbed her the “Typhoid Mary” of Top Chef, since everyone who became friendly with her was immediately eliminated from the competition.

And as for the second voodoo curse, well, we learnt yesterday that Carla once cooked for Dick Cheney. Need we say more?

With this kind of bad magic, Hootie never stood a chance.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Gail Simmons Twitters Reaction

Gail, possum, if we had a heart, it would be broken, too.

Richard Blais’ Speaking-from-Experience Reaction: “Sometimes, the Best Team Doesn’t Win the Game”

From his Bravo blog:

"Padma says it best when describing Stefan’s food. He exhibits an elegant classicism. The guy's very talented. The pigeon was the best thing I tasted that night. Sometimes, the best team doesn’t win the game."


Well, possums, as we half suspected, the public "apology" and publicity rehabilitation of Hosea Rosenberg were indeed necessary because he was just revealed as the winner of this season of Top Chef. You cannot, after all, have a Top Chef whom America perceives as a cheater. We cannot harrumph loudly enough or roll our eyes violently enough.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Home Cooking We Can Believe In: Hootie Wants to Make Peach Cobbler for Obama

That's what Miss Carla said in a very entertaining interview with Pipe Dream, "Binghamton University's student-run paper since 1946." When asked, "If you could cook one meal for anybody in history, who would it be and what would it be?" Carla had little hesitation:

Oh, let’s see … now that I’ve got Jacques [Pépin] out of the way (Laughs), I think it would be Obama. I think it would be President Obama and I heard he likes peach cobbler. So, I’d start him with dessert because life is uncertain. He might have to get up and walk out and then I would go on to make him something homey with a little twist on it. I don’t know what it would be, he likes homey food. I would have to ask him what that would be.

We urge you to read the interview in full, as Carla also talks about the pitfalls of editing ("if you say it, they can play it"), her love of Gail Simmons, her days in Paris, her Platonic last meal ("a hamburger so juicy that the juice runs down my arm while I’m eating it"), her favorite and least favorite challenges, and the difficulty of watching herself on television:

Sometimes it’s weird because I have these facial expressions and people would always talk about my eyes and to see myself, yes, my eyes are bugging out and yes, I make these facial expressions, but I don’t see myself that way, so it is funny to see.

Finale Previews: It Is *On*! Hootie Love vs. the Red Baron vs. the Stolid Mennonite Farmer from the Far Side Cartoon

Holy Crab! Not Content to Massacre Cute Little Lambs, Ariane Duarte Moves on to Sebastian the Crab

Well, possums, there it is, photographic evidence, courtesy of tipster-possum Christine, that the Silencer of the Lambs herself was, indeed, on Iron Chef. According to Christine (we still haven't seen the show, since we don't have TiVo; but that may change, since the noTiVos are getting restless), Ariane "kind of f-ed up a dish (pan was too hot, ended up burning the crab and having to start the dish over)," and the photo above depicts Amanda Freitag and the other sous-chef "checking out the damage of the burnt crabs."

Monday, February 23, 2009

Will Even the Lesbians Succumb to His Charms? Fabio Viviani to Guest Wednesday on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”

Well, they have a similar fashion sense, so perhaps it will work out.

From the guest listings on the show's website:

CHEF FABIO VIVIANI: Everybody can’t stop talking about him! He was just eliminated from Bravo’s “Top Chef,” but a lot of people thought he was going to win it all! (Me included!) He’s an amazing chef and has a personality to match! The show’s finale airs tonight and it’s down to Carla, Hosea and Stefan!! After Fabio gives a cooking demonstration, I’m gonna try to get him to spill who becomes Top Chef!

Theeza eeza tha feerst estep for Fabio televeezhon domeenazhon.

And what's this, from a Bravo Q&A?: "Hopes are that America likes me a lot because you will see me again, very soon, Italian-style."

Possums, we have an exclusive preview of Fabio's new television show:

Just for the Tastelessness of It: Colicchio Spot Features Padma Stand-In, Betrays Diet Dr. Pepper, Gets In Dig at Grant Achatz and His Ilk

VulgAriane on Other CulinAriane Endeavor: Silencer of Lambs Ariane Duarte on “Iron Chef America”

A big ole thank you to the sharp-eyed possums who've sent in tips about seeing Wracked-by-Lamb Ariane Duarte on last night's episode of Iron Chef America, Bobby Flay v. Amanda Freitag. Unfortunately, what with it being the Gay Super Bowl last night, we did not watch the episode, and it does not appear to be on YouTube. Unsurprisingly, according to our tipsters, Ariane's team lost. We're just surprised Bravo let her do this.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Mamma Mia! Fabio Viviani Says His Mother Is “Smoking Hot”

On the video (which, until Bravo reintroduces embeddable viewing, you’ll have to watch here), Fabio says Hosea and Leah were more than friends and less than lovers, that males kissing is “a European thing,” and that he would vote for himself as fan favorite. He also asks Bravo to provide him the DVD of the season because (ahem) Bravo doesn’t sell DVDs of Top Chef.

The Fabio Viviani Exit Interview Roundup, Part 1: He Hates Cilantro, Likes In-N-Out (Animal Style!), Is a Good Lover, and His Mother Isn’t Dying

People Magazine:

You talked about your mom being sick. How is she doing?
The show is kind of exaggerated a little bit. My mom is not dying. She has a problem that she cannot move her hand. Her body produced too much calcium and the bone in the wrist is calcifying. It can’t be cured. Every six months she needs to have a surgery or else she’ll be completely paralyzed. It’s an expensive and stressful thing. But she’s hanging in there.

Is she proud of how far you got in the competition?
You know what? She doesn’t even know what’s going on. She know I’m on the show, but it’s hard to realize your son is on national TV because in Italy we don’t have these things. In Italy, if you are going on TV, it’s because you killed a whole family somewhere or you robbed a bank. So it doesn’t really happen that you are on national TV for something good. My mom, she was very happy. She told me she saw me on Google. And I told her, “Mom. I’m not on Google. Google is a search engine.”


Name one food you cannot stand.
Cilantro. I hate it from the deepest of my heart. And if one day if I’ll be filthy rich. I’m going to buy 20 acres, I’ll grow cilantro, and then I’m going to fly over with a combat airplane and drop an “m” bomb on the field and blow the whole thing up.

Pick your favorite fast-food restaurant.
In-N-Out is pretty good. “Animal style.” No pickle. I hate pickle too.

Grub Street

So you have a cookbook deal?
Yes, I have a cookbook that is coming out in April, a food and mixology book. One of my colleagues at the restaurant is a great mixologist. It will be at Wal-Mart, it will be everywhere. And what it talks about is how to do easy, stress-free Italian food, pairing with martini instead of wine.


You said you needed the prize money to take care of your mother. Is she going to be okay without this money?
The fact of my mom has been a little bit misunderstood. She’s not dying, she has this problem in her hand. She’s very young, she’s 47, and she has this problem [with] the bone and the cartilage in her wrist, they’re falling apart because there’s something wrong with her blood. She’s not going to die, but she had to quit the job that she was doing. I support my family every month.

A lot of viewers think you’re “the cute one.” What makes you cute?
I think an accent does its good part. And then, you know, my mom is telling me all the time that I’m the cutest person ever, so I guess my mom is right.


Do chefs make good lovers?
Chefs make great lovers, 'cause if you don’t please them while you’re having sex, you please them while you’re making dinner. I please them in both cases.

Endless Simmer

And Padma?
You know, she was speaking straight-forward Italian to me. She started in Italy as a model, she was on this TV show there, so I was actually looking at Padma way before she was tasting my food. She has a great palate. She’s a model, not a chef, but she’s very personable and we had a good time together. She’s very fun.

Were you worried about coming off as an Italian cliche?
Well you’ll have to tell me what an Italian cliche is. I left Italy because there were too many Italians, so it’s nice to be one of the few here. I think I represented my country well. Look, I’ve only been speaking English for 2 1/2 years. I had to rent the last season of Top Chef on DVD because on TV I couldn’t understand what they were saying. [Amuse-Biatch Editor's Note: This is a little odd to us, since, as far as we know, Top Chef isn't actually available on DVD.]


What are you up to now?
I’m getting a lot of offers, being asked to do TV shows, license my image on a line of cooking products, so all kinds of things. I hope you liked my face, because unfortunately, you’re going to be seeing a lot of it.

Another TV show! Tell us more.
Aaah, I can’t say yet, but let me just say - Watch What Happens.

Seriously. The Fauxhawk? Really?
I’m a chef, and chefs are a little like rock stars. Every summertime for the first day of summer, I dye my hair blond. Blond-blond, like Pamela Anderson blond. And then when the blond is gone I get the fauxhawk. I like to change things up. I know the pink scarf, fauxhawk thing is not really American masculine, but I’m Italian, so I don’t give a damn.

Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: Stefan’s Shaving Accident! Also, Beads by the Dozen?!?